Chilfest director details 'electric' past atmospheres and Tring's festival future

The event director of Chilfest spoke to The Bucks Herald about his excitement for this year's event and his highlights from yesteryear.
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Steve Butcher, event director of the Tring festival says his friends laughed when he first mentioned he was planning a large scale festival in his town.

But Steve had the last laugh, getting X Factor finalists Little Mix to perform at what was supposed to be a one-off event.

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Chilfest event director Steve ButcherChilfest event director Steve Butcher
Chilfest event director Steve Butcher
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Steve and his team caught the festival bug though, and in the 10 years since the festival has grown from strength-to-strength.

This year the Proclaimers headline the first Chilfest in two years on July 2, which will also be a 10th anniversary celebration.

Steve told The Bucks Herald: “People who come to Chilfest have a really good time and it almost becomes a sing-along.

“If you look at a group like The Proclaimers they have got a lot of music anthems that people know.

Craig and Charlie Reid, The Proclaimers © COPYRIGHT PHOTO BY MURDO MACLEODCraig and Charlie Reid, The Proclaimers © COPYRIGHT PHOTO BY MURDO MACLEOD
Craig and Charlie Reid, The Proclaimers © COPYRIGHT PHOTO BY MURDO MACLEOD
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“I think when they go on at 10pm it is going to be absolutely electric.”

Another coup for this year's show Steve was delighted to share with The Bucks Herald was the move to have Aylesbury resident, Tony Hadley opening proceedings.

Steve said of the former Spandau Ballet star: “Tony in the past has headlined Chilfest.

“We thought this is our 10th anniversary lets do something really special.

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“He's opening at midday, that will be great because people love Tony and he's a reasonably local lad as well and he loves supporting Chilfest.”

Among Steve's finest moments was using his contacts built up over a 30-year career in the music industry to sign up Little Mix for year-one.

The group were fresh off X Factor when the event director was able to book them at a snip compared to the current rate the globally recognised band can demand now.

When asked for the most memorable gigs he's enjoyed viewing over the years, he referenced an emotional Boomtown Rats performance in 2014.

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Bob Geldof led his long-term bandmates out at Pendley Manor just months after the sudden death of his daughter, Peaches.

Steve said: “We were very unsure if he would perform.

“I was in contact with his management, and he was like, ‘well, what else is he going to do’.

"On the night, everyone was aware of what had been in the papers.

"For their set it had just started to rain, it was really weird, it was almost like a mist.

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"The atmosphere was electric, because people were so gunning for him, because of what he’d been through as a human being.”

Steve believes the fundraiser held under the Chilfest banner to support people fleeing war-torn Ukraine, was not only an amazing opportunity to support a worthwhile cause, it also provided a snapshot of the festival’s future.

He is hoping to modernise and bring in more 90s acts, like Toploader, to complement some of the 80s legendes the festival still attracts.

This year’s show is bound to be a special one, coming on the heels of two straight cancellations, while also celebrating the festival’s 10th birthday.

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